How to Run a Performance Tour with Low Numbers

Sacramento Youth Symphony
Photo courtesy of Sacramento Youth Symphony

One of the biggest challenges in planning a performance tour is recruiting your passengers.  If you travel frequently, you’ve most likely already been in a situation where everything seems perfect— you have the lowest price, the coolest destinations and top-notch venues all in place— but people still just aren’t signing up!

So what do you do when you are faced with a decision whether to travel or cancel your tour? Here’s the story about a group who was faced with this rather difficult decision and the surprising, wonderful experience that came from it...

     When the Sacramento Youth Symphony chose the United Kingdom as their performance tour destination, the orchestra members were immediately gleaming with excitement. But, as tour planning progressed, it became evident that the economy was taking its toll on the young musicians and that the tour would not meet its expected numbers. Not only would they be coming in with less passengers, but ultimately their ensemble did not have the necessary parts to play the prepared repertoirea common issue that can occur when planning musical travel.

     Artistic Director, Michael Neumann, was keen on traveling and wouldn’t give up, so he headed back to the drawing board and came up with a solution. He then made the bold decision to prepare a new program centered around smaller chamber pieces for the traveling musicians. While touring in the UK, they performed two of their four concerts in this format.

     But there was still the original repertoire which had already been fully prepared and the ensemble was not ready to give up on their hard work. So, collaborating with Encore Tours, they decided to transform the other two performances of their tour into joint performances with the Cardiff Philharmonic and the Ealing Youth Orchestra— local orchestras in the United Kingdom. With their international peers, the Sacramento players could still perform the larger orchestral program! The creative interaction between the ensembles was truly life-changing for all groups and is an experience they will surely remember for the rest of their lives.

     If you ever find yourself in a situation where your recruitment numbers are low, take a little advice from the Sacramento Youth Symphony: with dedication and creativity, a low number of players can go a long way!


About the Author

Tori Cook

Having grown up in a military family, Tori traveled the world at a young age and has visited over 25 countries to date. She is the former Director of Marketing and Business Development at Encore Tours and her passion for travel is matched only by her love of music. She holds bachelor degrees in Vocal Performance and Music Theory and currently performs with Chorus pro Musica in the Boston area. She also directs the Harborlight Show Chorus, a small barbershop chorus in the North Shore.

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